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What is Recovery Time Objective (RTO)?

In today's digital world, businesses of all sizes must prepare for the worst. Ransomware attacks, data breaches, and natural disasters can cause irreparable damage to your business if you don't have a plan.

Companies often experience challenges that disrupt operations leading to costly downtime. Research shows that downtime has impacted 82% of organizations in the past few years. Considering the average cost of downtime is $300,000 hourly, it can bring businesses down.

Without an effective backup and disaster recovery plan, it could take days or weeks to get back up and running after an incident. This means lost revenue and productivity that you can never recover.

Recovery Time Objective Explained

As mentioned, outages and downtime can be highly disruptive to a business. Furthermore, IT systems and infrastructure will take some time before they're up and running optimally when such issues occur. And in some cases, they may fail, requiring intervention to get them functioning again.

Understanding this is key to reducing the impact of such incidents. You must know how much time you have to get the systems up and running again before they disrupt operations. And this is where Recovery Time Objectives come into play.

RTO is an essential metric that will help you calculate the time it takes to restore your system or application after a downtime period with minimal disruption to business operations. Essentially, it's the amount of downtime your company can comfortably handle.

Different systems play varying roles impacting operations in diverse ways, so each will need a unique RTO. Once you have defined this for each system, you can develop a recovery strategy for rapid system restoration.

So, if you have an RTO of one hour, the person responsible for bringing the systems back up must do so within that period.

The Recovery Time Objective you set should be in line with your business needs. For instance, an online payment system should be shorter than that of a content management website. This helps you ensure that the recovery strategy you set aligns with the risks you face.

On the other hand, a company that can manage to use manual invoicing can have an extended RTO of 1-2 days, possibly more.

Ideally, you want systems up and running within the set RTO. However, you may not always achieve this.

This is especially so in extreme circumstances, such as when your service provider's systems are down or after a natural disaster.

In this case, consider outsourcing critical IT functions instead of waiting for downtime costs to run the business into the ground. This can help you keep your RTO in check, minimize downtime and ultimately save the company from potential losses.

What is Recovery Point Objective?

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is a metric similar to RTO. RPO measures the maximum amount of data loss an organization is willing to accept after an incident or disruption.

If RTO focuses on system recovery time, RPO focuses on data protection and recovery objectives. RPO measures the amount of data you can lose before it affects business operations.

RTO vs RPO - How Do They compare?

RTO and RPO are two metrics used in backup and disaster recovery planning. While they measure different things, you should set both metrics with the same level of care and consideration for your organization's needs.

Similarities between RTO and RPO

They are both used to measure the amount of time it takes for a business to recover after an incident or disruption. When setting these metrics, consider the organization's needs, risk profile, budget, and other factors.

Differences between RTO and RPO

They differ because RTOs focus on the time it takes to get systems up and running again, while RPO measures the amount of data loss a business can accept before operations are impacted.

Why Recovery Time Objective is Important?

Today, a key differentiator between businesses is the technology that drives processes. Digitization has undoubtedly enhanced efficiency, improved customer experience, and transform business operations.

However, businesses have become overly reliant on technology, which is only problematic when systems are down. This is because downtime is very costly. Therefore, having appropriate RTOs is essential.

Aside from the direct revenue you'll lose, downtime also results in committing additional person-hours to resolve the issue and expenses to replace IT systems. The total costs can rise above $1 million if you need to replace the IT systems. This is why it's essential to be prepared for downtime and recovery.

RTOs can help you do just that. They help businesses stay on top of their recovery process and reduce delays caused by outages. They also provide a plan in case of unexpected downtime, allowing the business to get back up and running while minimizing losses quickly.

Calculating RTO

Calculating RTO can be complicated and involves multiple components, such as the cost of downtime, investments in disaster recovery and backup solutions, personnel costs to bring systems back online, regulatory requirements, and other factors.

To determine RTO, it's important to consider all these components and establish a timeline based on an organization's risk profile and budget. Furthermore, take into account the:

  • Frequency of the outage- How often a particular type of outage occurs
  • The severity of the outage- How serious the consequences of an outage are
  • Cost of the outage- How much money an outage will cost the organization
  • Duration of the outage- How long the outage will last
  • Impact of the outage- The economic and social impact of the downtime on your business

With these in mind, you can now proceed to calculate RTO. Here are the steps you should follow:

  • Calculate the highest acceptable downtime for each essential process
  • Determine the resources necessary for each key process
  • Calculate the amount of time necessary to acquire or craft the essential tools needed for every pivotal procedure
  • To determine your Recovery Time Objective, add the highest acceptable period of downtime and the time required to acquire or create resources

Many factors can influence whether you achieve the RTO or not. Therefore, it's crucial to have the proper backup and disaster recovery plans in place.

How Backup and Disaster Recovery Plans Help Achieve RTO

Backup solutions and disaster recovery plans are essential to achieving RTO. These solutions allow an organization to recover quickly from downtime, data loss, or other disruptions.

Your backup plan should have an assured RTO in the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with your provider. It should also provide you with the following capabilities:

Achieving your business's Recovery Time Objective goals is made possible through backup and disaster recovery solutions, which come with various functionalities. To ensure you get the most out of such solutions for near-zero RTO results, it pays to pay attention to these important functionalities.

Instant Recovery Capabilities

To reach your ambitious RTO goals of near-zero, you must have a recovery option that provides instant results. This is why you should have an instantaneous restoration capability as part of your disaster recovery strategy. Such allows you to boot the saved machine straight from backup storage and operate it virtually in a ready-to-use condition, such as on cloud storage.

This is indispensable for businesses that need to keep up with operations during unexpected downtime. It also benefits businesses that need to restore specific data quickly, such as those in the healthcare sector.

Flexible Scheduling Policies

Having RPO policies that are flexible and adjustable is essential for RTO success. You can adjust your RPO according to the organization's current needs.

For example, you can adjust RPO policies accordingly if there's a change in the RTO requirements. Also, since RPOs are typically set for specific processes or applications, adjusting them for each is easier and more efficient.

i)  Continuous Data Protection

Having RTO goals in place requires continuous data protection (CDP). This ensures that all your data is backed up and protected, no matter how often it changes. CDP also allows you to restore lost or corrupted data quickly.

Although CDP can be used for critical workloads, it may cause performance and stability problems due to its high resource usage. As a result, CDP is mainly implemented as file-level backups.

ii)  Near Continuous Data Protection

Near continuous data protection (NCDP) is an RPO policy that ensures near-real-time backups and restores. It also provides a limited RTO of a few minutes with minimal impact on performance. This means you can easily restore data as soon as it’s lost.

NCDP solutions are perfect for organizations that need to maintain RTO goals of near zero. However, like CDP, NCDP can still cause adverse performance and stability impacts due to its resource consumption requirements.

Granular Recovery

Having granular recovery capabilities allows you to recover individual files from a backup instead of restoring an entire data set. This can be extremely useful in RTO scenarios, as it allows you to quickly restore individual files or objects without waiting for the entire data set to be restored.

Granular recovery also helps with RTO policies dependent on specific outcomes of certain processes. It ensures that only the affected components of these processes need to be restored and no others.

Offsite Copy for Disaster Recovery

As you prepare to achieve your RTO goals having an offsite copy of your data is essential. This is because a secondary data repository will enable you to quickly recover from disaster scenarios or outages in your primary storage location.

Live Replication with Failover

Live replication with failover capabilities is another RTO-related functionality you should consider. This allows you to keep your data available in real time and eliminates the need for manual intervention when restoring lost data.

It also enables organizations to quickly switch between primary and secondary sites in case of a failure or disruption in one location. Live replication with failover helps organizations maintain RTO goals with minimal disruption and downtime.

Tips for Disaster Recovery Planning

An RTO strategy is essential for organizations that must ensure operational continuity during outages. Here are some tips for planning RTO strategies:

Ensure Business, and IT are Linked

Crafting a Disaster Recovery plan is tricky, and while people may be informed of the best practices for doing so, budgetary concerns tend to take precedence. Instead of making cost your number one concern when creating such plans, it should come second to abiding by industry-standard best practices.

And, more importantly, synchronize your capabilities and expectations.

Have a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan

Your RTO strategy should include a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. The plan should outline the steps personnel should take to recover from outages and list the roles and responsibilities of different teams.

The Disaster Recovery Plan should also include information on RPO, RTO, data backup, replication schedules, and the process for testing the Disaster Recovery Plan.

Test the Disaster Recovery Plan

Regular Disaster Recovery plan testing is essential in allowing businesses to recover operations timely and smoothly. While this process can be tricky for many IT departments, you must test recovery down to the application level. Otherwise, issues are bound to arise. Successful disaster preparedness requires complete awareness of any potential problems before they occur.

A Disaster Recovery test should not be taken lightly, but rather a comprehensive end-to-end testing procedure up to the production level. The main focus of disaster recovery needs to shift from servers to applications due to complexities such as multiple-tier client servers and web-based structures with interdependencies between them.

If proper preparation is ignored, there's an increased chance of issues arising. So these tests must be successfully conducted down until the application level for businesses to ensure they can withstand any potential disasters!

Considering that new threats are arising and existing ones are evolving, your disaster recovery plan cannot remain the same. It must be tested regularly and updated to meet current trends and threats.

Have Defined Disaster Recovery Responsibilities

Having defined Recovery Time Objectives is a critical factor in the success of any RTO plan. Assigning responsibilities to certain departments or teams and ensuring they understand their specific roles is essential.

It is also important to make sure that everyone is aware of any changes or updates to the RTO plan so that they can act quickly in case of a disaster. This is especially important when it comes to decision-making and determining who should be responsible for certain tasks during an outage or data loss.

Update the RTO Plan Regularly

Another key step is updating your plan regularly. This includes updating it with new RPO, RTO, and data backup information and changing existing processes or procedures that are no longer relevant. Additionally, if you have recently upgraded any of your applications or systems, these changes should also be reflected in the RTO plan.

Set Realistic Goals

It is important to have realistic objectives when creating your RTO plan. These objectives should include both short-term and long-term goals, such as restoring critical operations within a particular time window or returning a system to full operation in a certain period of time.

To ensure RTO goals are realistic and attainable, it is important to consider the current state of technology, the resources available, and any potential threats or risks you may encounter during an outage or loss of data. Once you set Recovery Time Objectives, test them periodically to ensure they are still achievable.

Have Good Backups

When it comes to RTO, having reliable and up-to-date backups is essential. For additional security, data should be backed up regularly, preferably on multiple platforms. Also, when backing up data, ensure that the most recent version of the data is saved to reduce any data loss.

Backups can also help businesses recover faster in case of an RTO or RPO breach. Having the proper backups in place will make it easier to restore data and systems with minimal downtime and disruption.

How Veritas Can Help

Businesses that are looking for reliable Recovery Time Objective solutions should consider Veritas. Veritas features a wide range of automated tools, analytics, and end-to-end RTO capabilities that allow businesses to plan for and respond to threats proactively.

Here are some of the benefits of working with Veritas:

  • Automated RTO and RPO planning- Our solutions provide automated planning, which ensures that businesses are prepared for any RTO threats or breaches. This can help businesses avoid potential threats and minimize disruption in case of a breach.
  • End-to-end RTO capabilities- Veritas' end-to-end capabilities include data backup, recovery testing, and RPO and RTO planning ensuring that businesses have a comprehensive Recovery Time Objective plan.
  • Analytics and reporting- We offer analytics and reporting, which can help businesses monitor RTO trends and identify potential RTO threats.
  • Advanced Analytics- Veritas RTO solutions also provide advanced analytics to help businesses analyze RTO and RPO trends to gain better insights into their strategy.

An RTO plan is essential for businesses that want to reduce downtime and disruption in case of a breach. It is important to have objectives that are realistic and attainable, as well as reliable backups and end-to-end Recovery Time Objective capabilities. With Veritas, you can proactively plan for RTOs and RPOs and use analytics to track trends and identify potential threats.

So, get in touch with us today for more information on our solutions and to learn how we can help you prepare a comprehensive strategy.


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Frequently Asked Questions

RTO stands for Recovery Time Objective, which refers to the time companies restore a system or data set after an outage or loss. RTO objectives are used to set short-term and long-term goals for disaster recovery planning.

RTO objectives should be tested periodically to ensure they are still achievable. This involves simulating RTO scenarios and testing how long it would take to restore a system or data set in case of an RTO breach.

Veritas RTO solutions provide automated RTO and RPO planning, end-to-end RTO capabilities, analytics and reporting, and advanced analytics. This helps businesses prepare for RTO threats and minimize disruption in case of a breach.